1 Corinthians 16:13-14 "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." (ESV)
I came across this verse in a personal devotion I was doing last week and it truly convicted me how none of this seemingly simple command is actually carried out anymore, especially down to the first two words - be watchful. How often do we even consider that Christ could return at any day - any moment? Just having this mindset would change a great deal of what we do in our day to day lives. Think about it - there's that job you've always wanted to pursue, but never have time; the ministry you either wanted to start or aid, but held back because of fear, timing, too busy, and so on; there's that one person that's weighed on your heart that you intend to reach out to, but just haven't had the time. How differently would you treat all of these situations if you were truly preparing for Christ's return as if it were this year? How much more would you accomplish? I know I always go about life thinking that I have a whole lifetime before me to accomplish what I need, so things are constantly getting put off another day. But this is a fact, with God's help, that I want to change.
But the second phrase alone is a shocker! "Stand firm in the faith". So many Christians today, or so they call themselves, will claim the basic belief, but their lifestyle would show little to nothing of it. Now, I'm not saying that I have it all together (cause I know I surely don't!) or that we're called to perfection, but that there ought to be some element of effort seen in the person to try to live their life in response to God's commands and an active awareness of the fact. Everyday we're thwarted with potential to do both right and wrong in every situation we're led to, but which of the two more often prevails? Sin. It's in our inherit nature to sin. It's what we're driven to do constantly. We stand firm in our faith when we actively choose to be the leader, set the higher standard, and let God drive our life wholly, not just in one or two areas or claiming our Sunday mornings alone.
All of standing firm ties into how to act like men. Being a man today seems to have a much broader meaning than it used to, but it is rare to find someone who exemplifies the biblical standard of true manhood. In those times, the man was a true leader, commander in chief of his household. He was was a businessman, accountant, family man, warrior, farmer, occasional lyricist, and husband all rolled into one. He understood what it meant to step up and take responsibility and be strong for the sake of his household. So I encourage all you guys out there - don't be afraid to appear different from everyone else and stand for something. Take the initiative and don't compare yourself to the rest of the world. Set yourself against God's standards as they're the only ones that count.
The most important thing in this verse that is also the hardest for us all to do is to do all in love.. How often are we given an assignment and, rather than rejoicing at being entrusted with the responsibility, we grumble that it gets in the way of our leisure time? I struggle with this a great deal, as any reprimand or reminder for me to do something usually aggravates me more than it does convict me of either my faults or duties as an adult to myself, family, and/or preparations for my future family (hypothetically). It's a completely self-oriented culture that we live in where we're persistently thwarted with messages telling us that if we have this new item, go on this trip, look this much better, that we'll be happy at last. But have you ever stopped yourself in the middle of working for others to think how much good it's doing for yourself as well, at least emotionally? I know no similar joy as when I happily for work for someone else's benefit, though I all too often forget this feeling when I stop and consider doing something charitable. The basic thing I want to convey here is that there's a high lack of doing things sheerly out of love for the other person and not being concerned with what an inconvenience it is to ourselves, even if it means talking to that one annoying person or helping someone out at work even though it's time for you to go home. These were just some thoughts that had been weighing on me. Please feel free to respond and respectfully criticize, cause I love feedback. :) I'm only tagging a few people who I know regularly read my notes.